Hunting Shadows

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Chapter 38

JB’s strong hands pulled her out from the monster’s body, and he healed the gaping hole in her side before taking her back to his castle to recuperate.

She had been asleep for too long, and she was cold… too cold. Everything was dark and shadowed and felt like winter. Shivering she imagined her apartment and using her newly accessed powers she slipped from the middle realm to her own realm. Once back in her own apartment she put on coffee and went to have a hot shower. JB was nowhere to be found and hadn’t contacted her since he had helped her kill the wyvern at the hidden underground laboratory in Africa.

She was irked that she hadn’t found anything but a chemically created wyvern that had nearly killed her, but that didn’t mean that she wouldn’t try again. There was a portal there either in the laboratory or in the mine, her portal ring had pulsed when she was in the mine above the laboratory. She still had to find the knife which was the first on her list of artifacts to find.

JB had said something about it being a reaping blade, but if it was… who did it belong to and how did it get lost to time? She knew JB would just run interference and there wasn’t really anyone she could ask… except for Kyros and possibly Tyver. And though she wasn’t looking forward to talking to the ornery reaper, she wasn’t about to back down and not complete her mission.

She sent Kyros and her team of techies a message asking if they could research weapons that could kill gods. In the meantime, she gathered everything she would need for her trip back to Africa. She left JB a note, and filled the bike before boarding a plane and heading back to the sun-drenched savannah of the African plains.

She had been awoken by something. A sound from her dream or from outside, she wasn’t sure. Yawning, she checked the clock; it was only a little past five in the morning, her flight left later that day.

She turned back over when she heard it again. A hollow wailing that sent chills down her spine. “Well, no point in sleeping now…” she thought as she got up and went searching for the source of the sound. No one was out in the apartment building she shared with JB, though when she got to the main floor, the sound seemed to be clearer but still muffled only gaining sound when she stopped to listen by the ventilation system.

She followed the access door down to the basement, and stopped cold when she saw JB’s set up. He was sitting at a desk in the corner writing notes and when she walked in he looked up, surprised to see her.

“JB, what is all this?”

“Work… remember a couple years ago before the vampire war, when you came back from a mission and the people were walking around half alive without souls?”

She frowned, but nodded. “Yea, Lenora was giving the people Reaper blood to suck the life from them… or something right?”

“Yea; essentially. I’ve been trying to figure out how she did it, and I think I’ve figured it out.”

“But I thought that because reapers are dead, you don’t bleed.”

“We don’t by technical definition. But there is a way to extract our essence and usually only top level or master reapers can do this… and because I’m now king of the underworld; I can.”

He pulled back the curtain containing a human on a stainless-steel table looking pale and grey. There was blood around the mouth and seeping from the ears, eyes and nose. Its skin was falling off in patches and it was making this terrible hollow wailing sound. Eryn took a step back, alarmed and wary. This was the source of that wailing that had woken her, and the fact that she had been feeling like there was something hidden and terrible in her building.

“JB, what are you doing to him?”

“I’m looking for a cure to ghostism. You remember the plague that hit the city and the military had to come quarantine everything?”

“Yea, you made me leave the city.”

“Since then, I’ve been doing some research and experiments to figure out how she did it.”

She watched oddly fascinated as he took a scalpel and made a deep cut into his palm. He didn’t flinch, and he didn’t bleed, his skin healed quickly and he didn’t even have a scar. What surprised her was when JB slit his wrist and black shadows began a slow drip into a vial. The black blood was thick and shiny like oil and looked like it never had oxygen or flowed through veins but instead dripped thickly and slowly. It reminded her of the blood that had dripped down Hades throne.

JB then took the vial and hooked it up to the tubes connected to the human on the table. They watched as the vial emptied and the human began convulsing on the table as the dark liquid ran through his veins destroying his system and leaching the life from his body.

The human on the table turned an ashen grey color, his chest heaving and convulsing moments before he exploded, spraying blood and entrails all over the room. Eryn heaved into the sink vomiting bile and water before rinsing her mouth and going back to stand with JB.

“Why are you doing this?”

“Curiosity. I wanted to know why Lenora wanted to halve the population of my city. why no one else knows of this, and I wasn’t informed.”

There was a darkness to his voice, a hint of the reaper coming through. His eyes smouldered and burned with the wrath of hell. Eryn reached out and put her hand on his shoulder. He tensed and she noted that his fingers curled against the desk and she could feel the coldness seeping into her bones.

“JB, come on. My flight leaves in a couple hours, you can play in your basement of horrors after I’m gone… please?”

“You’re not going after the reaping blade, are you?”

“No; I promise, I’m going after the next item on the list a shield I think.”

He nodded and took her hand in his, and though she could still feel the coldness seeping off him, he seemed to be in better control of himself. They made love like they used to, slow and sweet and loving. He was stroking his fingers down her arm while she played with his chest hair.

“Are you worried about the tournament?”

“Not really; I’m the king of the middle realm. And Hades hasn’t scheduled it until next month, which gives me and Kyros a chance to train for a solid month.”

“That’s good, can I ask you a question? And I need you to answer me honestly; because this is more your department than mine.”

She immediately felt him tense.

“What is it your looking for?”

“Who says I’m looking for something?”

“You’re always looking for something, it’s what drives you.”

“I wanted to ask about the reaping blade.”

“Eryn…”

“What I just wanted to know more about it that’s all.”

“Uhuh…. Right. Well basically, it’s a reaper’s blade. A blade of death. Dragons heart core, made of bone and pearl and diamond. Enchanted by gods of death; created to capture a reaper’s or gods soul and essence. It obliterates them.”

“Is that how you killed Lenora and Tucker?”

Sighing, JB got up and stood at the side of the bed, and she watched as he changed forms and summoned the black fire’s armour, sword and shield. She watched transfixed as the sword she was looking for materialized in his hands; glimmering with an ethereal iridescence.

She could practically feel the evil and power emanating from the sword. Eryn shivered as the dark sword sucked the light and warmth from the room.

“This is what your looking for, it belongs to me. Yes, I killed Lenora and Tucker with this sword. When Lenora took you; when I was fighting with her, the armour: sword and shield appeared on my body and I found the strength to defeat her. I think it chose me because I was fighting for something. I was fighting to get you back and I will do anything to keep you safe.”

His eyes burned blue fire and she smiled. This was the man she fell in love with. The partner who would through hell and back to keep her safe. She knew he would always have her back just as she had his. This was what made their relationship special and unlike anything else in the world.

“Alright, so that’s the sword and shield. I guess it’s onto the third thing on my list of artifacts to find.” She grinned and stepped into his embrace. It wasn’t that she wasn’t afraid of him; more just accepting of the new path.

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